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Last weekend’s Unifest celebration, Anacostia’s annual street festival, attracted the usual lineup of sponsors. There was D.C. Healthy Start, a government program pushing prenatal care, and Chartered Health Care, which promoted its low-cost medical services. And then there was the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), a large public company selling another commodity to folks east of the river: a prison. CCA already operates a Youngstown, Ohio, facility for the District and has proposed locating a new facility in Southeast. CCA reps, however, remained low-profile during the two-day event, opting not to occupy the booth offered by festival organizers. Joe Johnson Jr., a CCA board member, says he’s unsure why his company didn’t have more of a presence at Unifest, but he insists it had nothing to do with community opposition to the Ward 8 prison proposal. “That’s not an issue,” Johnson says. “We have a very keen interest in that part of town.” Johnson might have also been interested in thanking festival organizer Union Temple Baptist Church, which advocates keeping D.C. inmates within District borders.
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‘Horn Dog When the L2 bus bound for Chevy Chase Circle stopped at the corner of Connecticut Avenue and Military Road last Saturday morning, the woman in the front seat turned toward the driver. “Never even heard of that guy,” she said, pointing to a “Jeffrey Gildenhorn for Mayor” poster bearing the candidate’s Peter Angelos/Boss Hogg likeness. “Me neither,” responded the driver. Three stops later, she disembarked, crossed the street, and stumbled on the Gildenhorn-for-Mayor kickoff rally staged outside the candidate’s own American City Diner. An hour later, the woman had downed two Hebrew National hot dogs and was putting her last licks on an ice cream sandwich when the mayoral candidate stopped by to shake hands and chat. “I’m not sure I’ll vote for him,” the woman later commented. “But I sure do appreciate a good free lunch.”
Poster Mortem Shaw Coalition member Debby Hanrahan knew she was in for abuse when she decided to don the group’s white elephant costume, which mocks the proposal to build a $685 million convention center at Mount Vernon Square. At the May 29 D.C. Council vote on the project, Hanrahan-as-white-elephant stormed
the chambers and profiled for the cameras. Since then, she has received 28 $35 citations from the Department of Public Works (DPW)not for wearing the costume, but for illegal posting of the group’s anti-convention center signs, which feature an illustrated white elephant. No other members of the group have received fines for the posterswhich leads Hanrahan to believe that she received them because DPW inspectors “saw me on TV.” DPW inspectors told Hanrahan’s lawyer, Jim Drew, that only candidates for office are entitled to hang signsan interpretation that firmly contradicts District law. “According to the law, she’s done nothing wrong,” says Drew. After reviewing municipal regulations last Tuesday, DPW officials agreed with Drew and cancelled the tickets. “There is enough lack of clarity [that] we didn’t think it was fair to uphold,” says Linda Grant, a DPW spokesperson.
Public Exposure Last Friday, a cadre of right-wing provocateurs prodded Mayor Marion Barry on a timely topic for D.C. residents: public nudity. Invoking the spectacle of topless Lesbian Avengers parading down District streets during past gay pride marches, Americans for Truth President Peter J. LaBarbera asked the mayor whether he would order a police crackdown on indecency during this year’s parade. “I don’t endorse nudity,” Barry stammered.
Common Ground On June 15, Common Denominator, a new community newspaper, will hit the streets of Washington. Editor and publisher Kathy Sinzinger promises her weekly rag will eschew national news in favor of neighborhood Zeitgeist. “We’re trying to be a newspaper for the residents of the District of Columbia,” explains Sinzinger, a former managing editor of the Alexandria Gazette. But she will also feature nationally syndicated columnists Jack Anderson, Ralph Nader, and Barbara Reynolds. Sinzinger says that Common Denominator will be free when it debuts, but it will cost a quarter per issue thereafter.
Reporting by Paula Park, Michael Schaffer, Elissa Silverman, and Frappa Stout.
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